Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Are you a fan of horses? Did you know that in American culture a lot of English idioms and expressions are about horses?

Americans use these idioms all of the time in daily English conversations.

We’re going to look at what these horse idioms are, how you can use them in conversation, and how these can help you to connect with natives in a really fun way.

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Horses As A Topic of Conversation

A couple of episodes ago we spoke about busy bees and there was the thought of doing a whole episode on animal idioms.

When you start to look into this though, you notice that horses are a huge part of animal idioms in English. Plus, these idioms can be useful if you are taking the IELTS Exam because you will quickly increase your Speaking score by using them.

So rather than focus on animals overall, we’re going to take a look at how horses are a very common idiom.

You might be surprised at just how often this comes up in conversation.

This is a fun part of everyday conversation and it’s a great one to look at closely.

Horse Idioms In Conversation

As you probably know by know, there are many idioms that exist in English.

These are used often by natives, and so they can be fun to try out in your conversations.

Here are some of the more common idioms centered around horses:

  • Hold your horses: This is you telling somebody to wait or to be more patient. If somebody is trying to rush you then you might say this in an effort to say don’t be impatient. If somebody is rushing you, then you might say, “I’m coming already. Hold your horses!”
  • Horse around: This means to be goofy or joke around. You might even be making a bit of a ruckus or a little noise. It may be a disturbance or it may be all in good fun. You might say to somebody “Okay quit horsing around, we have work to do!”
  • Charley horse: This is the pain that happens in your leg when it cramps up. You can barely move the leg because it’s so tight and cramped up. You have to stand or massage the area to lessen the cramping and get rid of the pain. This is common with pregnant woman, and you might hear about them often. You might say, “I had a terrible Charley horse last night–those are so painful!”
  • Straight from the horse’s mouth: Someone told you something who REALLY knows about the topic so you got it from a credible source. It may even be that the person who gave you the information is the direct source of the information, so you know it’s truthful and accurate. This can be a bit offensive, so be careful with it. If somebody challenged you on something, you could say to them “I heard this straight from the horse’s mouth so I know it’s right.”
  • Get off your high horse: This is telling somebody to stop being overconfident and acting like you are better than everyone else. Though this may be accurate it can also be rude so be sure that you use it in the right situation. If somebody were to act like they were right or better than everyone you might say, “Oh get off your high horse! I know what I’m doing here.”

These idioms are used pretty frequently and as you can see there are a lot of them.

Roleplay To Close Out

Since idioms can sometimes be confusing to understand at first, a roleplay can be quite helpful.

Do keep in mind that in normal English conversation you wouldn’t use all of these idioms at the same time.

You want things to sound natural in your conversations, but for the purpose of the roleplay this can help you to see how they look and sound.

In this roleplay, Lindsay and Michelle are old college friends catching up.

Lindsay: “So do you still see Steve and Rose all the time?”

Michelle: “Oh my gosh! Rose is pregnant. With triplets.”

Lindsay: “No way. How did you hear that?”

Michelle: “Straight from the horse’s mouth!”

Lindsay: “That’s incredible. And scary! That’s a lot of kids! She’s doing okay?”

Michelle: “Yeah but she gets Charley horses all the time so she can’t sleep. I told her she needs to relax more.”

Lindsay: “Oh get off your high horse Michelle! You never relax either!”

Michelle: “I know I know. I’m just horsing around. Wanna get lunch? Let’s do Italian food. Ready to go?”

Lindsay: “Whoa, whoa, hold your horses. Give me a second! I’ll be ready once I put my coat on.”


These phrases are really natural and are a part of conversation quite often.

Idioms can be confusing at first, but can be quite fun to use in conversation.

As you can see, there are many idioms centered around horses.

Try using some of these in conversation, and see how fun they can be.

This is a great way to make interesting conversation, and to make connections. Also, if you are taking IELTS then don’t forget to try to throw some of these idioms into your Speaking test in the right place. Learn more about the IELTS Speaking test here.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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